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The Sprint Starts Before the Race

posted Nov 2018

More thoughts from the motorcycle seat on bunch racing.

One of the things which strike you when watching the professionals on television and listening to the commentaries, is that one of the main discussions in each team is the attention paid to the finishing five kilometres. They reconnoitre each finish and more recently, some teams send back films of the run in so the lead out men and sprinters know what to expect with as much certainty as possible.

With our circuit races you don't have the team support but 99% of the time the finish is within a few yards of the start.

Pretty much all riders have a warm up ride and so have a really ideal opportunity to do their own reconnoitre of the finishing few kilometres themselves and establishing clear ideas of the final kilometre, 500 metre mark, and 200 metre mark. Up hill, level, downhill, likely wind direction, possible hazards. Of course noting where you need to be placed if there are corners near the finish.

And of course you've had 80 to 100 kilometres before then to get an idea on who are the strong guys and who are likely to be the fast ones so you can pick the right wheel to ride off.

I'd have thought that most of this would have been second nature to all riders with anything of a chance to place in a race. Even if you're not planning to participate in the bunch sprint surely you'd want to know the lie of the land from a safety aspect.

So how is it possible that very useful riders don't know where the route goes when they're within the last kilometre?

I watched this happen from the seat of the motorbike recently with absolute disbelief. Hopefully it's a lesson learnt but really it's a lesson that I would have thought wouldn't need to be learnt the hard way. 

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